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Best Credit Union CDs

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We survey 90 credit unions every weekday to determine which ones have the best CD rates. We’ve created this list of credit-union-specific CD rates for people who prefer to work with credit unions because they’re customer-owned and often have better rates than banks. The credit unions below are available to customers nationwide, and they’re all federally insured institutions. Your funds are protected through the National Credit Union Administration, up to $250,000 per depositor per institution.

The list below highlights the best credit union CDs by term, with a few months of wiggle room on either side of the term to capture the best rates available. When there’s a tie, we favor credit unions with the lowest minimum deposit requirement and the most forgiving early-withdrawal policies.

Scroll down for the top credit union CD rates available as of March 30, 2023.

Best Credit Union CDs for March 2023

Best Credit Union CD Rates

Term Credit Union APY Minimum Deposit Early Withdrawal Penalty
3 Months (2–4 months included) Alliant Credit Union 4.50% $1,000 Interest from number of days CD is open (90 days maximum)
6 Months (5–9 months included) Fortera Credit Union (7 months) 5.25% $1,000 3 months of interest
1 Year (10–14 months included) Credit Union of Denver (13 months) 5.05% $5,000 3 months of interest ($20 minimum)
18 Months (15–20 months included) Credit Human (18–23 months) 5.25% $500 270 days of interest ($50 minimum)
2 Years (21–29 months included) Credit Human (24–35 months) 5.50% $500 270 days of interest ($50 minimum)
3 Years (30–41 months included) Credit Human (24–35 months) 5.50% $500 270 days of interest ($50 minimum)
4 Years (42–53 months included) University Federal Credit Union 5.00% $1,000 All interest earned up to 25% of total at maturity
5 Years (54–66 months included) All In Credit Union 5.00% $1,000 3 months of interest
10 Years (114–120 months included) Credit Human 4.30% $500 1,095 days of interest ($50 minimum)

Best 3-Month CD : Alliant Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union has been around since 1935, when it was formed to serve employees of United Airlines. Headquartered in Chicago, Alliant has no branches, but it offers up to $20 per month in rebates for fees from out-of-network ATMs, and accounts can be managed online or through an app for Android and Apple devices.

Membership is available to anyone nationwide who becomes a member of Foster Care to Success, which serves teens in the foster care system. Alliant will cover the one-time $5 membership fee.

Best 6-Month CD : Fortera Credit Union

Chartered in 1954, Fortera Credit Union is headquartered in Clarksville, Tennessee, with numerous branches between Nashville, Tennessee, and Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Membership is available to anyone nationwide. Accounts can be opened and managed online or through an app for Android and Apple devices. Fortera also is part of the CO-OP network of shared branches and ATMs.

Best 1-Year CD : Credit Union of Denver

The Credit Union of Denver began in 1931 with eight members and $40 and has since grown into an institution with nearly 64,000 members and more than $880 million in assets.

Membership is available to anyone who lives or works in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, or Jefferson Counties in Colorado, or anyone who works for the Regional Transportation District, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or any businesses that work with the RTD or NREL. Memberships also are available to families of members and to students at select schools and colleges. The cost of membership is $5.

Best 18-Month, 2-Year, 3-Year, and 10-Year CDs : Credit Human

Credit Human was formed in San Antonio, Texas, in 1935 to serve members of the National Federation of Federal Employees Local #28 union. It took the name Credit Human in 2016.

Membership is available nationwide to anyone who joins the American Consumer Council, and Credit Human agrees to pay the fee to join the ACC.

The credit union has several branches throughout Texas, but members nationwide can access their accounts through online banking, a mobile app, or through CO-OP's shared branching network. Credit Human is not part of a fee-free ATM network.

Best 4-Year CD : University Federal Credit Union

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, University Federal Credit Union was founded in 1936. It has 23 branches throughout Texas and also is part of the CO-OP network of shared branches and ATMs.

Membership is available to anyone nationwide who joins the American Consumer Council, and accounts can be managed online or via an app for Android and Apple devices.

Best 5-Year CD : All In Credit Union

All In Credit Union originally was chartered as Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union in 1966 to serve soldiers stationed at Fort Rucker in Alabama. It has been known as All In since 2019. In addition to CDs, members have access to checking and savings accounts, loan services, and more. Membership is available to anyone nationwide who joins the Fort Rucker/Wiregrass Chapter of the Association of the United States Army. A basic 2-year membership is free.

The credit union has numerous branches in Alabama, Florida, and Mississipi and also is part of the CO-OP network of shared branches. Members also can open and manage accounts online or through an app for Android and Apple devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Credit Union?

Credit unions are financial institutions that provide banking services like checking accounts, savings accounts, and loans. They are customer-owned not-for-profit organizations, and they tend to have a community focus. To join a credit union, you typically need to share a common bond with other customers. For example, you might all work for the same employer or live in the same area. However, some credit unions, like those listed here, are available to customers nationwide. To qualify, you typically need to join a nonprofit organization, often with a small donation.

How Do Credit Unions Differ From Banks?

Credit unions provide many of the same services as banks. But their not-for-profit structure makes them unique. In theory, credit unions primarily focus on serving customer-owners and keeping rates competitive. Without the need to generate profits for outside investors or pay taxes on earnings, credit unions might have an edge. Still, it’s always worth comparing offerings from both banks and credit unions.

“Membership” is another difference. To join a credit union, you must meet specific eligibility criteria. Banks, on the other hand, make their services available to anybody.

Concerned that a credit union is too small? If your credit union participates in shared branching, you can use branches and ATMs at other credit unions for free. The CO-OP shared branching network has more than 6,000 branches across the U.S.—more than Wells Fargo or Chase.

  • Customer-owned organization designed to serve them

  • Competitive rates on loans and deposits

  • Community focus

  • Government-backed deposit insurance at federally-insured institutions

  • Eligibility requirements may pose hurdles for some consumers

  • Small institutions might lack some services

  • Some large credit unions lose the community feel and focus

Why Are Credit Union Rates So Good?

Credit unions often pay higher rates on CDs than banks. Without the need to maximize profits for outside shareholders, credit unions can maximize what they pay out in savings accounts and CDs. Plus, credit unions don’t pay federal income taxes. That provides additional resources for offering high rates to members.

How Do CDs Work?

A CD is an account that pays a specified rate for the length of time that you choose. When you use a CD, you commit to leaving your funds with the bank, and you may have to pay a penalty if you withdraw funds early. Banks and credit unions typically reward you for your commitment by paying higher rates on CDs than they pay on savings accounts.

CDs are “time deposits.” To open a CD, you select a term (six months or three years, for example) and deposit money. Your CD “matures” when the term ends, and you can withdraw the proceeds or reinvest them in another CD. Doing nothing prompts some banks and credit unions to reinvest your funds automatically into another CD with the same term.

How Do Early-Withdrawal Penalties Work?

CDs pay more than savings accounts because you promise to keep your money untouched for an extended period. But if you need to withdraw funds, you can often do so—at a cost. An early withdrawal penalty is a charge you pay to your bank when you take money out before a CD matures.

Penalties are often quoted as a number of days’ worth of interest. For example, a bank or credit union might have the following schedule of charges:

  • For terms shorter than one year, pay 90 days of interest
  • For terms of one year to five years, pay six months of interest
  • For terms greater than five years, pay 12 months of interest

Early-withdrawal penalties typically increase on CDs with longer terms.

What Is a No-Penalty CD?

Some CDs do not have early withdrawal penalties. You can take funds out of a no-penalty CD at any time without paying additional charges. You might have to wait at least seven business days after opening the account, but the money is free and clear after that.

No-penalty CDs offer flexibility, but you may pay a small price to keep your options open. These CDs typically pay lower rates than CDs that feature an early withdrawal penalty (all other things being equal). Still, a no-penalty CD might make sense if you’re setting aside funds for an unexpected need. Likewise, if you think rates might fall, you can use a no-penalty CD instead of a savings account. That strategy allows you to lock in today’s rates (for a while, at least) while keeping your money liquid.

What Is a CD Ladder?

A CD ladder is a strategy that helps you avoid problems that may arise if you put all of your money into one CD. To use a laddering strategy, purchase multiple CDs with different maturity dates. By doing so, you have CDs mature periodically, and you can use those funds for spending needs. What’s more, as rates rise and fall, a ladder prevents you from investing everything into the lowest-yielding CDs.

For example, if you have $20,000 to invest, you might use the strategy below:

  • $5,000 in a 6-month CD
  • $5,000 in a 12-month CD
  • $5,000 in an 18-month CD
  • $5,000 in a 24-month CD

Whenever a CD matures, you put the proceeds into a new 24-month CD. As you cycle through CDs, you have cash available every six months. You can spend that money or reinvest at whatever rates are available.

What Should You Look for in a CD?

Competing CDs can differ in multiple ways. Factors to consider when deciding which option is best for you include:

  • Earnings: The rate you earn from a CD is one of the most important aspects. Credit unions typically quote an annual percentage yield (APY), which helps you compare offerings from different places. APY accounts for compounding, so you don’t need to pay attention to compounding frequency if you use this measure. If you compare interest rates (but not APY), CDs with daily compounding are best, all other things being equal.
  • Safety: Verify that you buy CDs from a credit union that’s federally insured. NCUSIF insurance is backed by the U.S. government, and your funds are protected up to $250,000 per depositor per institution.
  • Flexibility: As you evaluate CDs, review early-withdrawal policies. You may need to get your money before maturity, and it’s nice to know how much you’ll pay to do so. If multiple credit unions offer similar rates, consider using CDs with the most liberal early-withdrawal penalties.
  • Minimum Deposit: Before you commit to a credit union, investigate the minimum purchase requirements for CDs. Depending on how much you have to work with, that may determine where you open an account. CD minimums of $500 are not uncommon, but some institutions require $2,500 or more.

What Are Some Alternatives to CDs?

CDs are excellent for keeping your money safe while maximizing your earnings. If you’re keeping funds in a bank or credit union, a CD probably offers the highest rate. But other vehicles might be a better fit for your needs.

  • Savings accounts also pay interest, but you can cash out if you need funds immediately—without worrying about an early withdrawal penalty.
  • Money market accounts pay rates similar to savings accounts, but they may include tools for spending. For example, you might be able to use a debit card, checks, or online bill pay.

Key Takeaways

As member-owned organizations, credit unions are an excellent place to buy CDs. They often pay more than banks, and even small credit unions might provide ample access to branches and ATMs. When you commit to a term of several months (or more), credit unions tend to pay more on CDs than they pay in savings accounts. But watch out for early withdrawal penalties, and consider using no-penalty CDs or a CD ladder if you want to avoid getting stuck in a CD that causes problems.

Article Sources
  1. National Credit Union Administration. "How Is a Credit Union Different Than a Bank?"

  2. National Credit Union Administration. "Credit Union and Bank Rates."

  3. Credit Union National Association. "Credit Union Not-For-Profit Tax Status." Page 3.

  4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is a Certificate of Deposit (CD)?"

  5. NASA Federal Credit Union. "Certificate Terms & Conditions."

  6. United Federal Credit Union. "Liquid Share Certificate."

  7. FINRA Foundation. "Bank Products." Page 14.

  8. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors. "Regulation DD: Truth in Savings."

  9. National Credit Union Administration. "Share Insurance."

  10. Lake Michigan Credit Union. "Money Market Accounts."

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